When the season opens March 21, high school baseball players in Europe will be wearing the same uniforms, playing on the same fields and even playing alongside and against many of the same players they faced last year.Military families are stationed all over the world, some in large communites with several thousand Americans, and others in out of the way places with just a handful. While I always enjoyed my time overseas, Americans are Americans, and we grow up a certain way. Any slice of America when you in a foreign country is always a welcome thing. A McDonalds in Pretoria, a Dunkin' Donuts in Sofia, and TGI Friday in Riga, or a KFC in Bournemouth are always a good thing.
But as players and coaches know, high school baseball in 2009 is a different animal. Instead of being administered and run by Child and Youth Services
So the fact that high school kids will actually get to play varsity baseball instead of Youth Services baseball is great:
According to athletic director Karen Seadore, the school system decided to offer baseball after DODDS-Europe director Diana Ohman told an April schools advisory meeting in Naples that she favored offering baseball.There are some issues, as there always are in situations like this:
"We decided to adopt baseball sometime last spring when Ms. Ohman suggested it," Seadore said by telephone last month. "We looked at funds available and met again in August. Everybody was on board."
Seven months later, 19 schools are scheduled to open the inaugural DODDS-Europe baseball season. Most are Division I-II size, but three D-III schools — AFNORTH, Hohenfels and Vicenza — and D-IV rivals Rota and Sigonella are going to give it a go.
With three sports — soccer, baseball and track — competing for the limited number of players, those smaller schools might be battling numbers as often as opposition curve balls.Again, this might be one of those things that a lot of people don't understand. Most Americans don't understand the concept of living in a foreign country, let alone raising a family in one. Trying to give their kids a sense identity is a difficult thing at times.
"There are only 13 students out for baseball at AFNORTH," wrote Greg Blankenship, who coaches the defending European Division III champion Lion soccer team, "and unfortunately the numbers could plummet. . . . "
So congratulations to DODDS for finally figuring this one out. Any time kids are involved with after school activities, its a good thing. Making baseball a school sport instead of a Saturday thing will only help the kids, and make the community stronger.
Stars and Stripesfor the link.